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'I'm probably one of the only teachers who work with passion in Macedonia'

What's it like to teach in Macedonia? Primary teacher Vese Vesela Bogdanovik shares her day

What's it like to teach in Macedonia?

What's it like to teach in Macedonia? Primary teacher Vese Vesela Bogdanovik shares her day

My day starts at 5.10am with a cup of coffee and cooking breakfast for my family. At 6.30am, I go to the bus station. If you saw the minivan which I catch to get me to school, you’d think it was stolen from a museum. It breaks down often, and we end up being trapped on the road for hours. I pay for my own transport and that's why I earn a lower salary than my colleagues working in the city.

I travel from the city of Bitola to the remote village of Ivanjevci to teach pupils aged 6 to 11-years-old at Koco Racin school. Despite being recognised for my teaching on national and international stages, I can’t get a job transfer to the city in which I live. After 17 years as a teacher and as a 42-year-old citizen in Macedonia, it’s a sad and embarrassing situation. I’ve reached the conclusion that if you have no time and ambition for total political engagement, you have no chance of progress. Simply supporting good ideas in Macedonia is not enough – you don’t need to be an expert in any job to get promoted, you just need strong political connections. Have those and you can be whatever you want – we’re sinking lower and lower as a country.

By the time I’ve reached school, I’m often exhausted from the travelling circus. But I try hard to put that to one side: every child deserves a smiling teacher waiting to greet them in the morning.

Our school does not have the financial power to purchase fancy teaching materials, but I try to make sure my pupils don’t go without. We create our own materials, build our own stimulating learning environment and work outdoors often.

A day in the life

During the day I try to fulfil my students’ needs and wishes and discover what might stimulate their curiosity and keep their attention. I see them all as my partners in the creative teaching process. One day we are Smurfs and the next day we are at the North Pole, practising reading and writing skills, maths and science through games and stories.

Our stories are interactive, unusual and entertaining, but at the same time they include the learning objectives the school sets out. A month ago, I collated stories written by my 9-year-old pupils into a book which was then published by the largest publishing company in our country, Prosvetno Delo.

By 2pm I’m at home, preparing lunch and helping my 16-year-old son Bojan with his homework. The afternoons I mostly spend at my computer. I film and produce education movies to show the work of my class, and my teaching methods. I’ve made over 250 so far, and the children absolutely love being in them. It motivates them to be better students and it helps me to see ways that I can improve my own teaching.

I also devote a lot of my time to being a volunteer educator and teacher trainer. I connect with colleagues from all over the world and we cooperate, share ideas and create new projects.

Education in Macedonia is in need of urgent reform, but any changes made go slowly, or are in the wrong direction. I am probably one of the last enthusiasts who work with passion for a nearly 350-euros-a-month salary, on which you can barely survive. But I don't give up. Everything I’ve achieved I’ve done myself, with honesty, love, sacrifice and hard work. I will stay this way to ensure my pupils receive the best possible education.

Vese Vesela Bogdanovik is a primary school teacher at Koco Racin, Ivanjevci, Macedonia

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